Is Gandhi a Mahatma? I am sick of this question. There are two reasons why this question annoys me. Firstly, I hate all the Mahatmas and firmly believe that they should be done away with. I am of the opinion that their existence is a curse to the nation in which they are born. The reason why I say so is that they try to perpetuate blind faith in place of intelligence and reason. Secondly, I do not know what exactly people understand by the word Mahatma. Even then, since the Editor of the ‘Chittra’ seems to be so adamant about getting a reply from me, I have decided to make earnest efforts to answer this question. Generally speaking, according to an ordinary Hindu, in order to pass as Mahatma, a person must have three things, namely his robe, his character and his particular doctrine. If these qualities are taken as a criterion for judging a Mahatma, then in the eyes of ignorant and uneducated persons who look towards others for salvation, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi can be called a Mahatma.
It is very easy for anybody to become a Mahatma in India by merely changing his dress. If you are wearing an ordinary dress and leading an ordinary life, even if you perform extraordinary noble deeds, nobody takes any notice of you. But, a person who does not behave in the normal manner and shows some peculiar trends and abnormalities in his character becomes a saint or a Mahatma. If you put on a suit or ordinary dress and do something, people would not even like to look at you. But if the same person discards his clothes, runs about naked, grows long hair, abuses people and drinks dirty water from the gutters, people fall at his feet and begin to worship him. In these circumstances, if Gandhi becomes Mahatma in India, there is nothing surprising. Had these things been practised in any other civilised country, people would have laughed at him. To a casual observer, Gandhi’s teachings appear to be very sweet and appealing.
Truth and Non-violence are very noble principles. Gandhi claims to preach ‘Satya’ (Truth) and ‘Ahimsa’ (non-violence), and people have so much liked it that they flock around him in thousands. I fail to understand why they do so. Is it not a fact that thousands of years ago, Lord Buddha gave the message of truth and non-violence to the world. Nobody except an ignorant fool or congenital idiot would give credit to Gandhi for originality in this matter. There is nothing new in the pronouncement that ‘Truth and Non-violence’ are necessary for the preservation of human civilisation. There is nothing new that Gandhi has added to the maxim. As I have already stated earlier, Lord Buddha taught these principles thousands of years ago. Had Gandhi thrown some light over the intricate problems arising from the experiment of ‘Truth and Nonviolence’, this would have added lustre to his Mahatmaship, and the world would have remained under gratitude forever. The world is anxiously waiting for the solution to the two riddles, namely how to uphold the noble principle of ‘truth’ and under what circumstances should violence be considered a ‘right action’. Lord Buddha preached that attitude toward ‘Truth’, and ‘Non-violence’ should be pragmatic. What answer would Jesus Christ have given to this question? Unfortunately, we have no means to know. Perhaps Pilate did not allow him time enough to answer this question. Has Gandhi answered this question? I do not find it anywhere.
If we study his teachings and sermons, we find that he is trading on other people’s capital. ‘Truth’ and ‘Non-violence’ are not his original discoveries. When I seriously study Gandhi’s character, I become exceedingly convinced that cunningness is more evident in his character than the seriousness or sincerity. In my opinion, his actions can be likened to a base coin. His politeness is like the politeness of Urea Heap, the case of the characters in the famous English novel ‘David Copperfield’. He has managed to keep himself in the forefront by means of cunning and inherent shrewdness. A person who has faith in his capacity and character faces the realities of life in a bold and manly manner. He has no need to keep a dagger up his sleeve; Napolean always charged from the front. He did not believe in treachery and never attacked from behind. Treachery and deceit are the weapons of the weak. Gandhi has always used these weapons. For many years he had been declaring himself to be a humble disciple of Gokhale. Thereafter he had been admiring Tilak for many years. Afterwards, he hated Tilak also. Everybody knows this. Everybody knows that unless he used the name Tilak to raise funds, he could not have collected 1,000,0000 for Swarajya Fund. Forgetting his personal relationships and leaving aside other considerations, like a shrewd politician, he attached the name of Tilak to the Fund. Gandhi was a staunch opponent of the Christian religion. In order to please the Western world, he often quoted from the Bible in times of crisis. In order to understand the working of his mind, I have two other instances to quote. During the Round Table Conference, he told people, “I shall not raise any objection against the demands presented by the representatives of the Depressed Classes”. But, as soon as the representatives of the Depressed Classes people placed their demands, Gandhi quietly forgot about the assurances given by him. I call it a betrayal of the people belonging to the Depressed Classes.
He went to the Moslems and told them that he would support their 14 demands if they, in turn, opposed the demands placed by the representatives of the Depressed Classes. Even a scoundrel would not have done this. This is only one instance of Gandhi’s treachery. Nehru Committee’s Report was presented in the open session of the Congress for discussion. Some amendments were to be made in the Report. All of you must know about it. Mr Jayakar was hired by Mr Gandhi to oppose these amendments. These amendments were very vehemently opposed by Mr Jayakar and his supporters. This is known to many people. But what were these amendments, and why so were these forcefully opposed? Not many people know the background of these amendments. I came to know about the opposition of Jayakar. (It is a fact; I have no reason to question the truth about it) from people who had opposed the amendments. All this was made known by Pandit Motilal Nehru and Mr Jinnah, who was betrayed by Mr Gandhi. The corrections which were proposed to be made in the Nehru Committee Report were suggested by Mr Jinnah for the benefit of his community.
But, when Gandhi came to know about it, he thought a great deal more had been given to the Moslems by Pandit Motilal Nehru than what he wanted to give originally. In order to humiliate Pt. Motilal Nehru vehemently opposed these proposals. Hindu-Moslem hostility is the result of the deceitful action on the part of Gandhiji. The man who was considered to be a friend of the Untouchables and the Moslems betrayed the cause of the very same people whose cause he claimed to be a champion. This immensely pained me. There is an old saying that benefits the occasion (Bagal mein chhurri Munh mein Ram): ‘God’s name on the lips and dagger under the armpit.’ If such a person can be called a Mahatma, by all means, call Gandhi a Mahatma. According to me, he is no more than a simple Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. I have given more than what the Editor of the ‘Chittra’ demanded. I must have told a great deal more than what the readers of the Chittra can digest. Apart from the incidents quoted herein, there are two more things that I shall tell and then close. The ages of Ranade, Gokhale, Agarkar and Tilak and the movements started by them were different from the Gandhi age. Their age was the age of knowledge. There is absolutely no doubt about it. Gandhi’s age can be called the ‘Tamo Yug’ of India. The politics of Agarkar and Tilak was based on honesty and truth.
It was not hollow and noisy. But the politics of Gandhi is hollow and noisy. It is the most dishonest politician in the history of Indian polity. Gandhi was the man responsible for eliminating morality from politics and instead introducing commercialism into Indian politics. Politics has been denuded of its virtue. ‘When the salt has lost its savour, wherewith you shall salt it’, asked Jesus Christ of the Pharisees. How to get rid of the pernicious saintly idiosyncracies of Gandhiji in Indian public life is the second and most important question. If Hindu India does not realise it today, it will take a long time to retrace its steps. The majority of the Indian population is illiterate, ignorant and uncivilised. This may not be the fault of the people. The privileged few in the society have deliberately kept the masses ignorant and illiterate. As a matter of fact, it is impossible to fight against the Mahatma on the strength purely of logic and rationalism. It is a fight between intellectualism against miracles and idiosyncrasies. Reason alone cannot wipe off the hypnotic effect of Mahatmic miracles. In these circumstances, I would like to offer some suggestions. In order to put an end to the activities of the Mahatma, other Mahatmas should come forward to take an active part in Indian public life and set up a political wing of their own. There is no dearth of the Mahatmas in India. Upasani Buva, Dada Maharaj, Mehar Baba, and Narayan Buva Kedgaonkar are some of the famous names. Numerous saints and ‘Mahatmas’ are present in India. They know the art of befooling and ensnaring innocent people. True, the number of their followers is far less than followers of Gandhiji, but their incapacity or lack of ability alone cannot be the reason for that. They have the ability and the strength to attain freedom along with salvation for their Hindu masses.
There are many reasons why they have not been able to know this. Owing to his dual policy and duplicity of character Gandhiji was able to succeed in creating a following by promising to attain spiritual and political liberation for all. I believe that if Uspani Buva, Narayan Maharaj etc., adopted the methods of Gandhiji, undoubtedly, they too would be able to establish the wing which could effectively face the blind followers of Gandhi. In this lies India’s salvation. Having a number of parties in the country will be beneficial to this country, at least for the time being. If an organisation is set up with these aims and objects, it would be able to serve the same purpose as was served by the Apsaras of the Puranas, namely the annihilation of their adversaries. And if this does not happen and this organisation remains reactionary, even then, its existence would be useful. In this way, at least the pernicious creed of fascism which is spreading its tentacles all around, will be stalled. I believe that if a Mahatma comes and places his Manifesto stating in a straightforward manner that he can achieve salvation, perhaps India will attain intellectual liberation. This is not a joke. This is no vilification or criticism of anybody. I am writing it with all the seriousness that I can command. Will the Hindus, by changing the minds of the Mahatmas like Dada Maharaj, Meher Baba, or Narayan Buva, try to serve India?
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar
Writings and Speeches Volume No. : 17 Part Two
This article was published originally in Chittra (Marathi), Dipavali Special Number, 1938.